- CMS and the HRSA are hoping to broaden the use of chronic care management strategies by delivering education and support to providers via its new Connected Care program.
The CMS Office of Minority Health and HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will use the nationwide effort to focus on the complex care needs of racial and ethnic minorities and patients in rural communities. The program works within the fee-for-service Medicare program and is geared towards providing beneficiaries with better chronic disease care.
“Two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions, and one-third have four or more chronic conditions,” CMS said.
“Many healthcare professionals are providing these patients with chronic care management, non-face-to-face services such as reviewing test results or coordinating with other providers, but are not aware of the separate payments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and are not receiving the full separate payments that are now available for CCM services under Medicare Part B.”
Chronic conditions are a critical challenge for CMS. The agency has repeatedly advanced strategies and tools for managing chronic disease patients in an effort to reduce costs and improve outcomes.
In 2015, CMS outlined procedures and resources for Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers including technology and strategy requirements for managing chronic care.
New requirements for chronic care services have been updated for 2017 with the purpose of improving chronic disease management.
The Connected Care program is offering two toolkits for healthcare professionals. The first one, called The Healthcare Professional Toolkit, provides detailed information about chronic care management practices, procedures, and benefits. The resource is a guide for professionals looking to integrate chronic disease management into their care strategies.
The second bundle of materials gives providers a detailed overview of Connected Care program and also provides downloadable resources and suggested activities as a way to promote Connected Care involvement.
There are other patient resources such as informational posters and postcards available for providers to use in their offices or care settings.
CMS believes that offering resources for chronic care management can help healthcare professionals deliver coordinated care that also keeps patients on track with more support during visits.
“This important initiative builds on our efforts to help providers care for patients with multiple chronic conditions. We are excited to be working with the Health Resources and Services Administration to reach vulnerable populations,” said Cara James, PhD, Director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health.
HRSA expressed similar enthusiasm for the project.
“We are thrilled to be joining CMS to educate healthcare professionals and patients about the value of chronic care management with the goal of improving overall patient care for millions of Americans and reducing overall healthcare costs,” said Tom Morris, Associate Administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration.